Aij Utani plane in Lochboer Hijacked!
Monday, July 16, 301 AP
Web posted at 2014 UST.
The President has confirmed that the Aij Utani plane that has been grounded in Lochboer for over a week has not been delayed due to technical problems but because it has been hijacked.
Utanian negotiators have been working with the plane's hijackers for the past week, trying to negotiate the release of the 183 passengers and crew aboard the Klagstein K-0330 jet.
The President confirmed that Utanian negotiators are working in Lochboer with South Bay police and anti-terrorist squads to secure the release of the hostages. He said that while their initial contact has been "fruitful" the hijackers have become increasingly agitated about the failure to secure their key demand. His staff had assured relatives of the hostages that they had established a routine with the hijackers of regular medical check-ups of passengers by an on-board doctor, regular food and water supplies as well as power supplied to the jet to continue air conditioning, air supply, lighting and entertainment for passengers.
The demand of the hijackers was the "immediate release" of Colonel Dajaran Philippe, the paramilitary leader who lead the incursion into Utania six weeks ago, at the beginning of June. The hijackers have also demanded the release of the other sixty-one captive members of the paramilitary group captured in early June that the Army is holding as "prisoners of war", and reasserted their earlier demand for a "significant sum of monies as reparations for the battle in early June.
The Utanian Protection and Intelligence Agency (UPIA) has since confirmed that the hijackers are members of the same paramilitary group that made the attack in early June.
The jet is apparently stationed on a disused runway at Lochboer airport, somewhat close to maintenance buildings to provide access to airport power supplies, as well as easy access to medical and supply staff. South Bay police have been keeping tight control on what people have access to the jet, after explicit instructions from the hijackers, and the President said that the government and police of South Bay has "so far proven invaluable".
"We could not have had a more valuable partner in this regard".
The President apologised to the press in attendance, "also to those not present", and to the Utanian public for deliberately deceiving them, but said this was in respect to relatives of those being held hostage. The President had used this same delay tactic for the soldiers killed in Dignania earlier this year also out of respect for the relatives and family. Utanian authorities have, for the past week, been desperately trying to contact all relatives of the passengers and crew on the plane so that "they could know the full story from us rather than hear about it through the media".
The President confirmed that the Hamilton Radio station that had reported a bomb was aboard the jet, and subsequently retracted the claim, had been contacted by the hijacking paramilitary group, but that the message had been "garbled". He said the Radio Station were forced to retract the news item on instruction from the Attorney General.
"We have been heavy handed in many of our dealings with parties who have learned part of the story, including journalist Maria Kompos of the Utani Star newspaper. However, this has been with very specific cause -- there are lives at stake here, and it is the job of any government to protect the lives of its citizens above and beyond other considerations."
The President confirmed that Utanian negotiators have told the paramilitaries holding the plane that meeting all demands will not be a starting position. He also confirmed that the government would "not be held to ransom", but that they were "looking at other options".
He said the Hijackers have threatened to kill passengers, but refused to confirm of deny the status of individual passengers, saying only that "the overall health of the passengers is good, considering the extreme circumstances".
The President said that "at this stage an armed resolution is not under consideration". It is understood that explosives have been employed to "secure" the hijackers control of the jet, and as a bargaining tool.
"Yes", the President confirmed, "the hijackers are indeed threatening to detonate the jet."
When pressed as to why he would not simply comply with the demands of the hijackers, the President was firm in his reply.
"An entire nation cannot be held hostage by any terrorist group, no matter what price they would inflict. There is more at stake here than a few captive paramilitaries. A principle. Should we surrender to their demands today, tomorrow they may decide to extract more money from us, or perhaps armaments. Maybe they will demand Utanian citizens next, or even a portion of Utanian sovereign territory.
"Simply, we cannot be held hostage, or we will be like the greengrocer who is under the thumb of the local mafia -- forever held prisoner on their whim or their desires. We would no longer be a sovereign nation, and we could expect disorder to reign thereafter.
"This is simply not an option."
UPIA Chief Negotiator Raymond Kessell then took over the press conference and told reporters that the awaiting press that his agents were in Lochboer patiently talking through with the hijackers the situation and seeking a "peaceful outcome". They would be contacting the international Anti-Terrorist Organisation for support.
"But, for now, we can only ask the patience of the Utanian people in the slow resolution of this situation."
On the Ground
Zeitgeist i-News can confirm that the jet is surrounded by a cordon of some one hundred South Bay police, armed with automatic rifles. Specialist plane maintenance and servicing staff are the only people allowed close to the jet, and can only do so at certain times of day.
Melanie LaForge, our reporter on the ground, reports that "two of the hijackers patrol about the plane at this time, ensuring that everything is in order. At the doorway, one hijacker holds the pilot at the door with a gun to his head, to make sure that nothing happens at that time.
"The plane appears unharmed, but it is confirmed that explosives have been placed inside the jet to threaten the passengers and crew.
"It is not known exactly how many hijackers there are, but a source from within the catering department at the airport, who are providing food to the plane, confirmed that twelve additional meals have been ordered every day above the passenger and crew number of 183.
Police are categorically refusing to allow reporters to speak to the hijackers."
Zeitgeist i-News will keep readers informed as events come to pass.